Thursday April 24th, 2014

The exercise:

Write about: the final shift.

Because hurray, no more nights at the gym!

As a final parting gift, members were kind enough to clear out of the gym by 8:45 tonight. Normally people are working out until I shut off the music a couple minutes before 9, so it was nice to actually get out of there at a reasonable time for once.


Earth is always moving. It constantly rotates on its axis while revolving around the sun, pirouetting silently through space. The waters filling its oceans are never still. Tectonic plates are colliding, brushing against each other, ever shuffling and shifting.

So far these shifts have been, relatively speaking, quite minor. Certainly many lives have been lost, massive cities have been decimated, but the scale has remained small. This cannot continue forever, we know this.

There will come a time for the great, final shift. A deafening thunder will rush across the planet's surface, the ground beneath our feet will convulse violently. Great fissures will open their jaws, swallowing us whole even as the demons of Hell slip from their dark cages and cavort in the streets of our crumbling cities.

Thick, black, choking smoke will block out the sun. Our cool, watery rivers will be replaced by rushing flows of searing magma. Life, as we know it today, will be no more.

But that day, that horrendous final shift is still far away. There is no need to panic; we have time.

At least, we think we do...


Greg said...

Congratulations on the final shift at the gym! (Until next winter?) And it is nice that everyone decided not to stay too late so that you could get everything done just right as your leaving gift :)
Hmm, when you started your story I wondered if I was going to get a little prequel to your Nanowrimo novel, but I'm not so sure I did. At least, I don't remember the outside world being quite so... inhospitable at the end of your novel. Beautiful descriptions in there though, especially what you do to the rivers. And all told with the right economy of language!

The final shift
Gravity was failing again. Janssen sighed when she caught sight of the medical bracelets lifting gently from their tray and starting their progress towards the ceiling like plumes from a dandelion clock. She tapped the screen in front of her, indicating that she was needed elsewhere, and stepped, more lightly than usual, over to the tray. Behind her the screen chimed.
"Janssen, what are you doing? I won't have you just holding up our conversation like this!"
Janssen picked up the cloth that normally covered the tray and cast it like a matador's cloak around the bracelets to gather them together and pull them back down to the tray. They clinked softly together.
"Gravity is failing again," she said. "You're less important that things floating around untethered in this office."
There was a sound like static from the screen; undoubtedly her supervisor was spluttingly, nearly incoherent with rage at what he'd take as 'back-chat'.
"I'll have you thrown out of the airlock for that!" came from the screen several seconds later. The words were frothy, as though spoken through bubbles of liquid, which they probably were; Janssen's supervisor was newly arrived from Aldebaran.
"Not on company time," said Janssen, pleasantly, returning to the screen. "And can I remind you, again, that I'm the final shift here? Whatever state I leave this place in is what the morning shift will have to pick up when they arrive. And if you push me out of an airlock, then you'll have paperwork to do. Lots of it."
More silence, and Janssen took advantage of it to open a second screen and start the stock-check.
"You just wait," bubbled the supervisor eventually. "Just wait."

Marc said...

Greg - yeah, I might be back there next winter. We'll see how things work out.

I actually wasn't thinking of that story at all while writing mine - sorry to disappoint! But now you've got me thinking about how I should stop ignoring that thing yet again...

Loved the description of the capturing of the bracelets. I also quite liked Janssen's matter of fact approach to her work :D